The Galaxy Note 3 is Samsung’s latest flagship in phablet (phone+tablet) category. The device has already been launched in Exynos and Snapdragon variants like the Galaxy S4 and has reached or been reaching most carriers across the world with different model branding.
On hardware side, the Note 3 bears all rings and bells associated with a Galaxy flagship and sports a 5.7-inch Full HD super AMOLED display with 386 ppi and 1080 x 1920 px resolution, Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 / Exynos 5 Octa 5420 processor, Quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400 / Quad-core 1.9 GHz Cortex-A15 / Quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A7 CPU, and a Li-Ion 3200 mAh battery. The device comes with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean out of the box. All Galaxy Note phablet devices are known for the innovative S Pen stylus and, being the most advance device of the series, Note 3 has some awesome S-Pen features.
Android, being an Open Source platform, offers a lot more freedom that other operating systems. If you own any popular Android device, you have access not only to millions of apps, but also to hundreds of custom ROMs and mods. While many users feel themselves happy without making any custom modification to their device, there are still many who feel Android tasteless without rooting and installing custom ROMs and mods.
They play with ROMs and root apps to get better battery, performance and customization. However, there are times when we feel nostalgic about the stock features of the device and then think of returning to the official firmware firmware. Sometimes our device gets stuck and refuses to boot properly. Flashing the stock firmware often proves to be the only remedy to return our device to normal state.
If you ever need to restore stock firmware on your Samsung Galaxy Note 3, here is a guide that will help you install the original firmware. However, there are a few things you need to know (especially if you’re new) and some preparation must make before proceeding to install a firmware.
About Galaxy Note 3 Firmwares:
Know Your Note 3’s Model:
As we mentioned above, Galaxy Note 3 comes in various models based on processor type, network connectivity and carriers. Before installing a firmware, you’ll have to download it and to do so, it’s very important that you grab the correct firmware file first. This is how you can check which model of Note 3 you have: go to Settings> General> About and check Model number. Most firmware files have the model number of the device they are meant for in their very name.
For your reference, I have listed the major variants of the Galaxy Note 3 below:
- Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N900 (Exynos Octa Core)
- Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Duos SM-N9002 (China)
- Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9006 (China/WCDMA)
- Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9000Q (Turkey)
- Samsung Galaxy Note 3 LTE SM-N9005 (Snapdragon Quad Core)
- Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N900S (Snapdragon 800 / LTE-A)
- T-Mobile Galaxy Note 3 SM-N900T
- Sprint Galaxy Note 3 SM-N900P
- AT&T Galaxy Note 3 SM-N900A
- Canadian Galaxy Note 3 SM-N900W8 (Bell, Rogers, Telus, Wind Mobile, Virgin, Koodo, Mobilicity, Sasktel and Latin American countries)
- Latin American Note 3 SM-N900W8 (Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, etc.)
- US Cellular Galaxy Note 3 SM-N900R4
- Verizon Galaxy Note 3 SM-N900V
You might find 2 types of firmwares even within a particular model number. Such firmwares are generally known as Branded and Unbranded ones. If your device is locked to a network provider/carrier, it’s a branded device. Therefore you must install a firmware that is meant for your carrier. Similarly, if you are able to use any SIM card on your phone, it’s unbranded, and so you can install any firmware on it that is for unbranded Note 3.
Know Your Note 3’s CSC:
Samsung is currently the most popular vendor of Android devices in the world. Unlike any other OEM, the Korean manufacturer releases its firmwares based on country, region and network provider. They call it CSC (Consumer Software Customization) which denotes to a specific geographical region or carrier. The CSC code contains the info about software packages specific to a region, language packs and features, carrier branding and also APN (Access Point Name) settings.
All CSC packages have a particular set of language (you’ll find English in all of them) and therefore, if you install a firmware that is not for your region, it’s probable that you might not find your native language in it. In case you do not find the firmware file for the original CSC on your Galaxy Note 3, try to find the firmware for the nearest country.
Also, to get OTA updates via Kies on your Galaxy Note 3, the original CSC of your device and that of the firmware you are going to install must match exactly. If it doesn’t match, you’ll have to download and install the firmwares manually. To know the CSC code of your device, the easiest way is to download Samsung Kies on your computer and connect the device. To know more about CSC codes for Samsung Galaxy devices, do not forget to read out detailed article:
Finding the Latest Firmware:
While looking for a firmware, you might see several firmwares listed for the model number and CSC of your Galaxy Note 3. The names of Samsung firmwares often start with the model number of the device followed by sequence of alphabets and numbers. You can find the latest firmware by comparing the alphabetical order between the firmware versions. See the examples given below:
In the above examples of the firmware versions for Galaxy Note 3, we have four types of info. XEO with black shows the CSC code for Poland. Next comes N9005, that shows the model number of the device the firmware is meant for. In this case, it is the LTE (Snapdragon) version of the device. Then comes XX that denotes to region that is Europe. The last 5 characters show the firmware version. In the first (top) firmware, you can see that noticed from left to right, UBMI7 is greater than UALQ8, and UAKL3 is less than both. Thus the top firmware is the latest of all.
- Galaxy Note 3 SM-N900
- Galaxy Note 3 Duos SM-N9002
- Galaxy Note 3 LTE SM-N9005
- Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9000Q
- Galaxy Note 3 SM-N900S
- T-Mobile Galaxy Note 3 SM-N900T
- Sprint Galaxy Note 3 SM-N900P
- AT&T Galaxy Note 3 SM-N900A (Also see: How to unbrick AT&T Note 3)
- Canadian Galaxy Note 3 SM-N900W8
- US Cellular Galaxy Note 3 SM-N900R4 (firmware not available)
Install Stock Firmware on Galaxy Note 3:
Odin is the unofficial version of Samsung’s tool for installing firmware to its Android devices. To be able to install a firmware on your Note 3, you will need this tool. Unfortunately, Odin is not available for Mac or Linux and so you must have a Windows PC to use it. If you have a Mac or Ubuntu computer, you can download and use Heimdall for the purpose.
Booting Galaxy Note 3 in Download Mode:
All Samsung Galaxy devices need to be booted into Download Mode before installing a firmware using Odin. You can put your Galaxy Note 3 into Download mode by pressing Volume Down + Home + Power buttons together for 2-3 seconds. When the screen turns up, you’ll be asked to press Volume Up to enter Download mode. Do it.
Enable USB Debugging on Note 3:
Before installing a firmware, USB Debugging must be enabled on your Galaxy Note 3 by going to Settings> General> Developer options. Developer options are hidden by default on all Android device running Android 4.2 and up. To make them visible, go to Settings> General> About on your Note 3 and tap Build Number for 7 times.
When it is done, go back to Settings panel and you’ll be able to see Developer Options there. Tap on it and select USB Debugging. This mode prepares your device by allowing the computer to make changes to your device.
Install Samsung USB Drivers or Kies:
The presence of USB Drivers from your device OEM is a must have if you want your phone to connect to your computer system. Without appropriate drivers, a successful connection is not possible. Therefore, you must install either Samsung USB Drivers, or Samsung Kies on your computer before being able to install a firmware file. Make sure that you have not installed both. Install either the the drivers or Kies. In case you have the latter on your computer, do not forget to close it while installing the firmware via Odin, or you might get into problem.
Backup Your Phone’s Stuff:
Samsung’s firmware are usually of two type: wipe and no-wipe. In most cases, the firmware have no-wipe attribute and means they do not wipe your phone’s data and apps or reset it. Since firmwares do not warn us whether they will be wiping the data or not, it is very important that we act prudently and be prepared against data loss in advance.
Also, whether a firmware deletes your phone’s data or not, we always recommend that you perform a data/factory reset after installing a new firmware to avoid slow performance and battery drain. We would talk about it later. To backup your apps, games, contacts, messages, call-log, etc., you can take help of these handy apps.
Using Odin to Install Firmware:
- Download the appropriate firmware file. If it is packed in a .Zip or .Rar archive, extract it on your computer. All firmware files have .tar.md5 extension.
- Download and extract/unzip the Odin zip file and launch the .exe file by double-clicking it.
- Boot your Note 3 into download mode by turning it off and pressing the following key combination: Volume Down + Home + Power.
- Connect the device to computer using USB cable and wait till Odin detects it. A successful connection is indicated by Blue signal at ID:COM and “Added!!” text at the message box on Odin.
- “Auto Reboot” and “F. Reset Time” options are selected on Odin by default. Let them be as they are and do not check any other option on Odin.
- If you are using Odin3 3.09, click on “AP” button, navigate to the firmware file and select it.
- Finally, hit the “Start” button and wait till the installation finishes. It might take a few minutes to complete.
- When the firmware is installed, you will see “PASS!!” message on Odin and your Note 3 will reboot automatically.
The first boot after installing a firmware takes a longer time than it takes usually. Wait for a while and then your phone should be ready to use.
Fixing a Bootloop on Galaxy Note 3:
Sometimes a little obstacle pops up while your phone tries to boot up. Bootloop is a situation where you’ll see the device logo or animation repeated constantly. The clash between two incompatible files in the system after installing a new firmware often causes bootloop. To fix it, do the following steps:
- Pull out the back cover of your Galaxy Note 3 and take out the battery.
- Wait for a minute and place the battery back to it place.
- Then press and hold the Volume Up + Home + Power keys simultaneously till you see the Samsung logo appear-disappear-appear and disappear again. It’s just the moment when you have to release the Power button. Keep the other buttons pressed till you see a green Android robot followed by Android System Recovery.
- Here you’ll see a small list of options in blue text. This screen does not support touch, so use the volume keys to scroll/highlight and the power key to select an option.
- Go to “wipe data/factory reset” option and confirm your choice by selecting “yes”.
- Finally, select “reboot system now”.
- Your Note 3 will boot normally now.
If you have any question or problem regarding the procedure described above, feel free to share with us. Thanks!